Why there are no easy answers for Real Madrid going forward

, SPAIN - JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)
, SPAIN - JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
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Firing Zidane

, SPAIN – JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)
, SPAIN – JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Managers at Real Madrid have a notoriously short shelf-life. Rafa Benitez was sacked after having lost just three matches, soon to be replaced with none other than Zinedine Zidane. Manuel Pellegrini earned the most points Real Madrid had ever earned in a La Liga season, but because he fell behind Barcelona in La Liga and exited the Champions League in the Round of 16, he soon found himself out of a job.

The most likely scenario moving forward is that Perez decides to cut ties with Zizou. We all know Perez has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to managers, and even a club legend like Zidane is not immune to the whims of Uncle Flo.

Firing Zidane could have its advantages. Zidane has often been accused of tactical naivete, of being much more lucky than good. Even those who praise Zidane tend to focus on his man-management skills rather than his tactical acumen. And with the squad currently looking totally demoralized and out of solutions, one has to wonder whether Zidane has finally ran out of his magic “gold dust”. 

Zidane currently appears to lack a Plan B for Real Madrid. Madrid’s matches are often a Groundhog’s Day-esque affair, where we watch the same thing happen over and over again, and nothing we can do changes the result. Madrid’s script is as follows: dominate possession, create chances, fail to finish them, concede in the second half, and then get desperate in the last 20 minutes, throwing on Vazquez and Asensio to try to send a barrage of crosses into the box, none of which ever find their target. Perhaps another manager could take Madrid’s talented squad and get something better out of them.

But this comes with its own set of complications. I wrote a while back about how I think firing Zidane would be a major mistake. While the past few matches have really made me start to doubt my initial confidence in Zidane, my concerns about firing him remain.

At the end of last season, Zidane looked like he was getting ready to build a dynasty at Real Madrid. Madrid went from a team that looked unconvincing against strong teams to one capable of absolutely dismantling them. And along the  way, Zidane was forced to change his tactical schemas, adapting to new injuries, and creating tactical experiments which worked wonders against big clubs. So, we know Zidane can get his tactical changes right when he needs to. The big question remains why he is having such a hard time implementing any of these changes now.

Firing Zidane risks disrupting what he had built up to this point at Real Madrid, and could upset things even more. There’s a certain value to putting faith in a coach who brought you back-to-back Champions League trophies and won a double. But at what point does Perez say enough is enough?

There’s also the little problem of finding a suitable replacement for Zidane. Firing Zidane in the middle of the season would require finding a manager who is capable of coaching at the highest levels, is currently available, hasn’t coached Madrid in the past, and would actually want the job. The list of candidates that meets those criteria isn’t large.

And then we have to ask, would any of these coaches actually be able to get anything out of this squad? Perhaps they could. But this road is also filled with uncertainty. The new coach could just as easily take our malfunctioning car and drive it straight off a cliff.